New York City will pay up to $75 million to settle a federal class-action suit that accused the Police Department of issuing hundreds of thousands of criminal summonses that were later found to be without legal justification, reports the New York Times. The summonses had been issued for minor offenses, like disorderly conduct, trespassing and drinking in public — quality-of-life concerns that had been a major theme of New York policing for two decades. Plaintiffs’ lawyers argued that the summonses were part of a policy that was “selectively and disproportionately enforced in minority communities.” That claim was a focus of other lawsuits that challenged the policing philosophy that relied on stop, question and frisk encounters.
The city’s use of stop-and-frisk as a crime-prevention strategy ended in 2013 after court found that the city had engaged in a “policy of indirect racial profiling” in minority communities. The proposed settlement filed yesterday covers at least 900,000 summonses, issued from 2007 to 2015, that were dismissed on grounds of legal insufficiency. The lawsuit alleged that under an unlawful “pattern and practice” enforced by city officials, police officers were told to issue summonses “regardless of whether any crime or violation” had occurred in order to meet a minimum quota requirement, an allegation the city denied. Under the settlement, the city agreed to reiterate its policy that quotas and numerical performance goals were banned.